We are trying to check all SPOT units are working properly and to enable us to do this before the start tomorrow morning, please could athletes go outside – either still tonight or early tomorrow morning, switch on their SPOT’s and press “track” mode and stay outside for 10-15 minutes. The following athletes do not need to do this as their SPOTS are already showing as tracking: 101 / 102 / 103 / 113 / 116 / 302 / 313 / 315 / 319 / 320. We will be looking out for you … Thanks!
Not far from Whitehorse there is a large area of overflow. That is why today crew member Gary Rusnak spent many hours trying to find a route that allows us to avoid these dangerous spots. I then went and checked the area myself. The decision has been made that we will gather for our start at Shipyards’s Park tomorrow (Jan. 30th) and hopefully get going at 10:30 AM. Gary will check the trail one more time before we start. Should he encounter new overflow or other dangers we will transfer the athletes to Takhini and start there. Start time would be whenever all people and gear are there. hopefully no later than noon. Fingers crossed we can take off from Whitehorse.
The bad news is that the trails we had to put in to avoid the overflow are very soft. Impossible to ride with a fat bike and really tough on runner’s feet. It will not be fun … But that’s nature and a challenge that will be the same for everyone.
Our pre-race dinner was great. We kicked it of with a very interesting presentation by Dr. Poole on Frostbite and Hypothermia. We dealt with some admin and of course enjoyed some very good food (thank you Coast High Country Inn!).
Athletes are getting their drop bags ready and can drop these off until 10 PM. Crew is packing and getting ready, too.
Everybody is eager to get going 🙂
This is just a short new post. I promised the athletes I would create a pdf-file of my briefing notes and make these available for download. It’s a lot of information and does of course not include everything else that was talked about. For those of you not competing it may be an interesting to read, too. It gives you an idea what topics we covered.
The last days here in the Yukon have been very busy. Many athletes have arrived early to participate in the training courses, offered by Shelley Gellatly and Stewart and Jo Stirling. The feedback from the athletes has been really good. As athletes Maciej Zyto said to me today: “It’s almost as great as a race in itself!”
Parallel to the courses more and more crew have arrived and we have been busy preparing checkpoint material, finalising logistics, doing volunteer briefings, checking the trails, preparing markers, buying supplies and a lot more. Thank you all for the effort you have already put into making this another successful Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra.
All athletes who had not participated in a course are here now, too. Of course they are now anxious to get going. I am sure many sleds are being pack and re-packed as I write these lines. One more day and we all finally head north.
After a really long cold spell temperatures have warmed up considerably. In and around Whitehorse we have had – 15 to – 20 degrees C and tomorrow it may even be + 1 degree C. The warmer weather was accompanied by a lot of fresh snow and more possibly on the way before it will get colder again.
The marathoners may be lucky and actually run one of the warmest races we have ever had with temperatures between – 5 and – 15 degrees C. However, the warm weather comes with a price. Trails will be soft and there will be more overflow. Right now the first half of the marathon distance is soft and there is a good chance everybody will get their feet wet. So, all athletes please be prepared! At the trail briefing tomorrow we will have a final report and our crew will also go on the trail again immediately before the start for a last update. Possibly a lot of the overflow will be frozen again. The trail for the second half of the marathon looks very good.
The 100 milers and certainly the 300 milers may get it all – a tropical start going down to lows of – 40 a few days later.
One good news is that for the first time after many years the Pelly River trail is good enough for us to use it.
A big thank you to the Quest and the Canadian Rangers for the many hours of trail breaking!
Our SPOTs have arrived with quite a delay, i.e. today instead of last week. That is why the units were not handed out today. We will distribute the SPOTs after the briefing tomorrow instead.
As (ultra-)runners we enjoy moving through incredible nature all over the world. We care about the environment. Climate change and everything that impacts flora and fauna in negative ways should matter to us. Therefore, I am very happy that our main sponsors Montane, Pertex and Allied Feather & Down all strive to become more environmentally friendly. For those of you who want to learn a bit more about what exactly they are doing, I want to share some information with you here.
Pertex have issued a very detailed Sustainability Report. It deals with things they have already achieved and states where they want to get to. To give you an example, 33% of 2019 Pertex fabric production contains a minimum of 50% recycled content. Their goal is to increase this to 80% of fabric production by 2022.
Allied Feather & Down has been instrumental in the development of the largest responsible sourcing industry standard for down, the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). As a bluesign® system partner, Allied also ensures that chemicals and detergents are safe for the environment and their business practices follow suit.
Montane is working with both Pertex, Allied Feather & Down and also other companies that care about nature. One very imporant aspect for them is quality. Montane products are “Built To Last”. To find out more about how Montane works to protect nature, please check out their Further. Forever information page.
Which brings me back to us, the consumers. On a personal note, I would say I still have a lot to learn and a lot to do in order to become more environmentally friendly. I am working on it, tough. And if we all work to improve a little bit, e.g. by next time buying a product that features a recycled fabric or bluesign®-certified down with RDS and by caring about how and where something was manufactured or how long it will last, we all will benefit. We will have a great product and at the same time we will have helped in the protection of the nature we love so much.
I hope you had a great Christmas and wish you all the best for 2020!
Thanks to everyone who sent in their paperwork already. I am getting more on a daily basis. In a couple of weeks I will send out an overview that will show you what I have and what still is missing. That hopefully helps making the dealings with paperwork in Whitehorse as efficient as possible. I am still missing quite a few BICO certificates. If you have not done the online course, please do not forget it. Email me your certificates once you have it.
Now on to some more reminders and other little bits and pieces:
It’s of course way too early to say what trail conditions will be like. We have seen great winters with very cold temperatures and then all of a sudden it warmed up the week before the race which meant trail conditions became challenging. The Canadian Rangers have not decided which route they will take when approaching Whitehorse. If it is safe for us, we will stick to the trail we always use, i.e. even if the Quest goes via Lake Laberge, it is likely we stick to the traditional trail.
In general, be prepared for anything from hard packed snow, to icy surfaces, soft snow, fresh snow and areas with overflow. Think about how each surface will influence your feet/footwear. And of course also have the right solution for your feet if temperatures go down to the extremes.
The official gear check is January 29th from 11:30 to 14:00 at the Coast High Country Inn (Library). If you are doing one of the 4-day survival courses you do not need to come because your gear check is part of the course. All other ultra-athletes not doing a course please bring your full sleeping system, your expedition down jacket and your stove. Stove lighting will of course be outside – MYAU crew will show you where. Also, please no stove repairs or handling of fuel etc. inside the hotel!
Once again Primus is sponsoring your fuel and Coast Mountain Sports is helping with the distribution. So, to get fuel before the race, please take your fuel bottles to Coast Mountain Sports, tell them you are a MYAU athlete and they will then fill up your bottles. During the race we offer to refill your fuel bottles free of charge at Braeburn, Carmacks and Pelly Crossing.
Travelling drop bag
The 300 mile athletes please remember that we have a travelling drop bag, i.e. you will have access to one and the same drop bag at Braeburn, Carmacks and Pelly Crossing. This drop bag can have max. weight of 23 kg.
It is very important that you mark/label your bag with the words “Drop Bag” and your name and bib number. That way it can’t be mistaken for a crew member’s bag and accidentally taken to a place it should not be. The marking needs to be resistant to frequent handling and cold temperatures. I also recommend to not pack anything that breaks when it’s cold or weight gets put on (as we do pile the drop bags and store these outside in a trailer) and that you do not leave technical items like a camera or valuable things like wallet or passport in there.
I have received a lot of insurance paperwork and will get more in Whitehorse I am sure. I just want to remind you that I won’t be able to read all the small print. I get your insurance certificates and that means I can tick the box. It remains your job to make sure that your respective insurance is the right one for the participation in an event like the MYAU.
Please also remember to have your insurance information with you when you need to go to the hospital in Whitehorse. Also, you will need your credit card upon arrival at the hospital!
Labelling your food
Please remember to label all your food items with you race number.
Transfers for local marathon runners
Could all local marathon runners please send me a quick email to let me know if they need a transfer from the finish line back to Whitehorse?
As you all know, Muktuk is the finish line for our marathon. Locals are more than welcome to visit. To local athletes, please tell your friends and family who want to greet you at Muktuk the following:
- Dog trails cross the road down to the kennel. Drive slowly!
- When they arrive down at the kennel and it’s not obvious where to park, they should please approach Muktuk staff to ask where parking is possible. The road around the dog yard always needs to remain open.
- Visitors with dogs please check with Muktuk staff if it’s okay to take your dog out of the car. Under no circumstances may visitors leave their dog off the leash.
- Visitors who want to pet the Muktuk dogs may only do so after checking in with Muktuk staff.
Muktuk CP for athletes
We will keep the change implemented for 2019, i.e. athletes in the ultra-distances are not allowed inside any of the buildings. There are several reasons for this. For one, the moisture in clothing and shoes that was not too much of a problem outside, turns everything wet once inside a warm house. Also, as hard as having to stay outside is, it will serve as an early reminder what it means to sweat and then being forced to stop. We will have a very close look at how sweaty/icy the ultra-athletes arrive. If we notice that stopping outside at Muktuk gets you in trouble, we will only let you go again if you have shown us that you can handle the situation. This may include an enforced stay of up to 4 hours; time that will not be credited.
Remember: Try to avoid sweating and have enough spare clothing as drying things during the first 100 miles will be very difficult.
There will of course be a hot meal that you will get served outside. Please have your bowl and cutlery ready. Same for tea, hot water, coffee and hot chocolate. You can get a hot drink upon arrival and give us your flasks to be filled up with hot water. Please be patient if it takes a few minutes. There are times when a lot of people require large amounts of hot water at the same time, which can cause a bit of a delay.
We will have a wood fire outside but this won’t be large enough for more than 6 people to “enjoy” and certainly not sufficient for drying clothes.
Also, for the marathon athletes, please note that you initially will run past the turn-off where the ultra-runners leave the Takhini River to get onto the Muktuk property. To come as close to the marathon distance as possible, you will keep on running on the Takhini until you get to a turn-around spot. You then come back on that same trail and will leave the river when you reach the turn-off point onto the Muktuk property again.
Updates during the race
There are several ways that friends and family back home can follow the race and your progress:
- -On our website there will be a link to the SPOT Tracking page. Provided your SPOT works, your signal should be updating several times per hour and show on the map, together with some interesting stats.
- Also on the website there is a “Results” link that leads to a table showing all checkpoints and the “in” and “out” times for all athletes.
- Once again we are lucky to have the great photographers Mark Kelly and Joe Bishop with us. As images become available to us, these will be uploaded in the gallery on arcticultra.de.
- The most frequent written news will feature in our facebook group.
- We will also have a daily news update on arcticultra.de.
- Last but not least, we will upload images and news on Instagram.
With this update I just want to remind you of a few things, inform you re. SPOT and one other important subject. Also, I will now start sending out the final invoices.
Let me begin with the reminders:
- If you can’t come to the MYAU but still are on the race roster, please tell me asap. Cancellation fees apply soon – and this is regardless of you having paid the final invoice or not. The only way you can avoid cancellation fees is if you email me.
- Between now and January 15th you can get your Medical Certificate and Medical Information organized and send the originals to the mailing address below. If you have not done so already, please also send along the information on your insurance cover for the race and the originals of your Entry Form (pages 3 to 6 of your Application & Waiver) and your Standard Release Form Actor/Model (page 11):Robert Pollhammer
Remember, please take copies of any originals you send and take these copies with you to the Yukon!The only exception to this are entrants from North America or other countries outside the EU where there is a chance the mail is too slow. For those of you where this applies, please scan the forms and email these to me. Then please take the originals to the Yukon and hand these in there (January 28th, 2020 between 09:00 – 12:00, in the library of the Coast High Country Inn).
- On the insurance cover you get, I want to repeat that I won’t be looking into the detailed and small print info of it. Be sure whatever insurance you get, that it covers your participation in an event like the MYAU.
- Remember to have your Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) for Canada
- If there is important gear you are planning on buying in Whitehorse, please make sure to get in touch with Corina from Coast Mountain Sports to reserve what you need. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Make sure you check customs information about the type of food you are taking along. There are a number of types of food that you will not be able to bring into Canada.
- Especially for the veterans: please make sure you read the rules again as certain things since your last MYAU may have changed.
- You will get free fuel at Coast Mountain Sports to get you started (just go there with your empty fuel bottle before the race) and we will re-supply fuel at Braeburn, Carmacks and Pelly Crossing. So, there should not be any need for having fuel in your drop bag.
- No trail checks at night and no response to SPOT “Help” messages at night.
So much for some important reminders.
SPOT and how we use it:
SPOT satellite tracking devices are mandatory for all ultra-distances, i.e. 100 and 300 miles. As with any technology, there are pros and cons. But overall the positive aspects are more than the negative ones.
If the tracking function is active a SPOT regularly sends its position via satellite. Thus we know where you are and so do friends and family back home. During the race a link to the map will be placed in a prominent position on our website.
In addition, the SPOT allows you to send a “Help”, “911”, “OK” and a “Custom” message. The main reason we have SPOTs is for their 911 function. And thankfully, so far it has only been used a few times. The 911 button to us means there is an absolutely life threatening situation. This also means if there is no life threatening situation, IT CAN’T BE PUSHED! Please keep in mind that the cost for a 911 rescue operation can be enormous and it has to be paid by you or your insurance. Obviously, if life is at risk it just has to be done. But if you are lost, tired, exhausted or have any other problem that a good rest and common sense can solve, do not push that button.
If a good rest is of no help, there is a button on the SPOT that is called exactly that: “Help”. It is a signal to the race organization that you do have a problem and want to end your race then and there. But otherwise you are fine and will wait for us to come.
If the “OK” button is pushed, it means exactly that, too. You show us that you are fine and are having a good time. There is no limit to how often you can push this button.
Last but not least, the “Custom” message. It MUST BE PUSHED if you have a longer rest between checkpoints. It shows us that you are not moving but there is nothing wrong.
The cons of the SPOT are that of course sometimes athletes use the “Help”-button when they really could have solved the problem themselves. Or they decided to use that button rather than going back to a checkpoint. Mind you, if you can’t walk anymore, that’s fine. Push it. But being tired is no reason. Please just take a good rest and decide then. Because if we have to “rescue” someone who is actually perfectly fine and at the same time something serious happens, it is bad to have resources bound.
Another con is that it’s technology and it does not always work. Usually this is due to not operating the SPOT correctly and/or using wrong batteries. But it also may be technical failure. It means we don’t get a signal and people back home start to worry. In most cases, race headquarter knows what’s going on, e.g. because we got in-/out times of a checkpoint or just recently had contact with the athlete.
To sum it up, the safety that SPOT brings to the race make it worth the while. The rental fee (tracking service, shipment and set-up included) is EUR 50.00/CAD 70.00 per unit. And in order to solve the problem with the wrong batteries, since 2019 each rental SPOT will be delivered with batteries. One set of 4 AAA Energizer Lithium Ultimate (model # L-92) for the 100 miles and two sets for the 300 miles. The charge per set of batteries is EUR 8.95/CAD 12.95. This will be invoiced, together with the rental SPOT fee, before the race.
If you bring your own SPOT, there is a set-up fee of EUR 20.00/CAD 29.00 per unit and you can pre-order batteries or bring your own. All athletes who bring their own SPOT were asked let us know. If we have not heard from you we will assume you need a rental unit and we will order one for you.
All athletes who bring their own SPOT please note that you should create and save a separate “Message Contact Profile” for MYAU. Under that contact profile, we recommend you do not include family at home on either type of distress message (Help & SOS) as they may worry when there is nothing to worry about. Inclusion of family on the Check-in/OK message is fine. Within the contact profile you need to define and include recipients for the Check-in/OK message, which in the past has been, “Still smiling” (this is best programmed to send only to email); Custom Message, which has been used for, “I’m taking a bivy” (email only as well); “Help” should be both email and text. SOS has no email option. You program a phone number only. IMPORTANT: There is a notes section for SOS, and it should read like this: “User is part of a human-powered race on the Yukon Quest Trail. If SOS is being transmitted, please phone the primary SOS contact directly, as for the purpose of the race, use of SOS is defined to mean life or death. Race central # (contact = Jo Davies) at tbc. phone number. Race director, who will at times be out of cell phone range on trail cell phone = tbc. NOTE: tbc. = Cell for primary Jo Davies.” You do not want GEOS emergency response center to waste time calling family. You want race central to be the first call.
If you are bringing your own SPOT we will need to get your ESN-Number which is in the battery compartment and the URL to your shared link page.
Since 2019 we are not able to accept a private Garmin inReach as an alternative to a SPOT. The inReach is a great product but it’s battery was not made for extensive use in extremely cold temperatures and we have had too many issues with it. You are of course more than welcome to bring it along as a back-up means of communicating, e.g. instead of a sat-phone.
Now I want to focus on one important safety aspect of the race. And that is:
Avoid sweating as much as possible!
This is a lot easier said than done. It takes an enormous amount of discipline to continuously remind yourself of that and then also act accordingly. You may feel that you have found a great rhythm and, sure, you feel a bit of sweat but things are going great. So, why stop? Well, you may feel great for the moment but when temperatures drop you could get into serious trouble. In a worst case scenario it could mean you will suffer from hypothermia and die. And don’t forget, you may not have to stop but maybe you run into someone with a problem and you are forced to stop. Or something on your sled breaks and you are forced to stop.
None of you should wear your heavy expedition down jacket while you are on the move! If you are wearing it, it’s a first sign something is not right. Obviously, if you have to wear it in order to avoid cold stress and hypothermia, you have no choice. But you then really, really have to be careful not to sweat in it. Ask yourself why it is that you need your expedition down jacket while moving. Have you been drinking and eating enough? Should you get some rest?
The reason why you need to keep your expedition down jacket dry is for those times when you stop and your body immediately generates less heat. You may need it while handling your gear before you sleep and/or you may need it inside your sleeping bag to get some more insulation.
However, it’s not only important to keep your expedition down jacket dry. You also need to keep your sleeping bag and other insulated jackets/pants and mid-layers as dry as possible. Breathability and ventilation are key. If even great breathability and ventilation don’t help and you get hot, it’s time to change layers.
Be sure to have enough dry back-up clothing to get you safely from one checkpoint to the next. When you get to a checkpoint that has got the capability to dry things, please approach our crew to help you.
About drying clothing at Dog Grave Lake, like in 2019 there will not be a “drying tent”. There are several reasons for this:
- The quality of the heat to efficiently dry a lot of gear is just not there. Some people who get their gear close to the stove may get okay drying times but everyone else will have to wait very long.
- If gear is too close to the stove or falls onto the stove it may burn – and depending on what item this is, it may mean “end of race”.
- There is also a scenario where gear could catch fire and then eventually the entire tent with all the gear in it burns down. Again, “end of race” and a lot of anger for many athletes.
- Risk of athletes confusing someone else’s gear for their own (has happened several times).
So, your number one goal needs to be to keep your stuff as dry as possible at all times and even more so when approaching the remote checkpoints Dog Grave Lake and Ken Lake. If you get to these places and essential clothing (that you have no dry back-up for) or your sleeping bag is wet, do not hide it. Approach our crew as we can’t let you continue. We will then try to dry your gear but you may get a time penalty and have to wait for a long time. That’s at Dog Grave Lake and Ken Lake.
At checkpoints that are not remote it’s easier to dry things. Again, please approach the respective checkpoint crew and we will help.
If you have any doubts feel free to ask any time.
Athlete updates also go out as emails. If you signed up for the MYAU 2020 and did not receive the email, please check your SPAM-filter and if it’s not there do get in touch. Maybe there is a mistake in the email address I have on file.
So, here is some important information for your preparations:
- Over the last few weeks a few athletes have had to cancel their entry. And from a couple more I know they may have to change plans. If you have not been in touch with me but already know that you can’t come, please let me know asap.
- Please remember to get/check your eTA.
- Many of you are MYAU veterans. If you have not done so already, please have a look at the rules. Some things had changed for this year’s race (e.g. mandatory gear and drop bags) and there still may be minor changes for 2020.
- Montane are once again offering a 20% discount for MYAU athletes. If you do not have your discount code already, please let me know via email and I will send it to you.
- For the first time in 2019, MYAU participants had to do the BICO video tutorials and get their free online BICO certificate. Feedback has been really good. So, we will keep this measure. All ultra-distance athletes please go to https://bicorescue.com, get your certificate done and email me a copy by mid-January. This is MANDATORY, i.e. without a certificate you can’t participate.
- Many of you already made rental gear reservations. If you know you want to rent something and have not told me already, please do so asap. That way I can react if there is a shortage of anything.
- If you want to buy anything locally from Coast Mountain Sports in Whitehorse, please make sure you send your email to Corina (email@example.com). They are happy to reserve anything you need for you. Don’t make it too short notice as they may have to order product.
- All MYAU ultra-distance athletes will once again get a SPOT for tracking. More information about this in my next news update. If you take a private SPOT, please let me know by end of next week.
- Private inReaches can be taken as a back-up means for communication but will not be accepted anymore as a substitute for a SPOT.
- If you need to or want to do one of the two survival courses and have not signed up, please do so asap.
As of now a lot of the new Montane winter product is available. Some more is coming in the next few weeks. If you want to check it all out, please visit www.montane.co.uk.
Here are some of my favourites:
The Prism Jacket is a true classic and one of my all time favourites. In the Alps where I live it’s probably the jacket I wear the most all winter. It uses weather resistant PERTEX® QUANTUM, 100% recycled 40 g/m² PrimaLoft® Silver insulation and upgraded with a lightweight nylon lining. The Prism Jacket has a climbing helmet hood and good pocket options. Stuffing inside its hand pocket means it packs down small so it can be kept in your pack for a warm, windproof and weather resistant layer in almost any mountain weather. It weighs 390 g (size M) and the RRP is EUR 149.95.
When breathability is key! Lined with super packable high loft POLARTEC® Alpha Direct insulation throughout, the Hydrogen Extreme Jacket is designed for fast paced activities in cooler conditions. The supreme breathability of the PERTEX® QUANTUM AIR outer shell offers all day comfort, whilst the DWR finish will still shed light rain. It weighs 545 g (size M) and the RRP is EUR 224.95.
I love my Wolf Hoodie but sometimes I could do without the hood. So, it’s great to see that Montane now also offer a jacket version (without the hood). The Wolf Jacket has been designed for use during high-output start-stop activities when thermal regulation is required. The POLARTEC® Thermal Pro® Hi-Loft provides exceptional comfort and warmth when climbing, mountaineering and hiking in cold conditions. It weighs 400 g (size M) and the RRP is EUR 134.95.
The Primino range has bee a great success for Montane. Blending the remarkable properties of Merino wool and PrimaLoft®, this baselayer is built for active use in cold conditions. Premium Merino wool draws vapour sweat away from the body while high-quality PrimaLoft® yarns wick liquid sweat across the outer surface, allowing it to dry quickly. A lightweight PRIMINO® mesh is used in panels across the back and under the arms for enhanced breathability and wicking. With deep front zip for venting which is offset to avoid irritation around the mouth, an under-helmet hood and thumb loops, the PRIMINO® Hybrid Alpine Hoodie has a technical feature set designed for layering in high alpine settings. There is also a women’s version available. The men’s version weighs 197 g (size) and the RRP is EUR 94.95.
Montane has got an incredible range of super functional glove. The new Alpine 850 Down Mitt closes the gap when it comes to mitts for the extreme cold. Filled with 850+ Allied Feather & Down water resistant fluorocarbon-free HyperDry™ down it provides extreme warmth for high mountain and expedition use. The PERTEX® QUANTUM together with a reinforced palm and high wear areas provides the ideal balance between durability and low weight. It weighs 236 g (size M) and the RRP is EUR 99.95.
These are just some highlights. Please check out our gear list for more Montane product that is great for our race and any other cold weather adventure.
The Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2020 will start in Whitehorse on January 30th. It will be the 17th edition and distance available are marathon, 100 and 300 miles. The next time we offer the 430 mile race will be in 2021.
The entry forms are ready and as of now it is possible to sign up. If you want to get the Application & Waiver please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry fees will go up after the end of May and then again after the end of August. So, if you are certain you want to participate, it makes sense to enter before end of May. The difference between the early entry fee and the entry fee for those who sign up by end of November is quite significant.